Clearfield Shows the Integral Role Fiber Plays in 5G Evolution

The News: Clearfield FiberFlex active cabinets equipped with Clearview Cassettes serve as an aggregation point for 5G traffic coming from 5G antennas including the feeding of cell sites from the company’s FiberFirst pedestal using FieldShield drop cables and FieldShield microduct. Read the Clearfield blog here.

Clearfield Shows the Integral Role Fiber Plays in 5G Evolution

Analyst Take: Clearfield’s portfolio plays a key role in powering 5G deployments for its customers by providing fiber optic connectivity and management technology to backhaul traffic from the mobile network. Clearfield’s craft-friendly products, including FiberFlex cabinets, Clearview Cassettes, and FiberFirst pedestals using FiberShield drop cables and FiberShield microduct, deliver a common installation process, enabling field technicians to use the same training and knowledge across the network.

From my view, the Clearfield 5G backhaul portfolio capabilities are increasingly critical as 5G transitions toward mainstream status, moving beyond its nascent hype cycle stage that overpromised rapid breakthroughs in areas such as seamless connectivity across mobile environments and the swift expansion of new IoT use cases. While the overhyping of a promising new technology is not unique to 5G, the good news is that 5G network and service advances are making steady progress across the global mobile ecosystem.

Specifically, according to the GSMA, consumer connections surpassed 1 billion at the end of 2022, will increase to around 1.5 billion in 2023, and subsequently expected to reach 2 billion by the end of 2025. This momentum validates 5G as the fastest generational rollout in comparison to 3G and 4G. Also, today there are more than 700 5G smartphone models available to users.

Plus, the number of 5G commercial networks globally has reached 259, according to data from TeleGeography and 5G Americas. That number is expected to reach 390 by the end of 2023 and 403 by the end of 2025, demonstrating strong 5G network investment growth in many regions throughout the world. Moreover, 5G backhaul must now deliver support for very low latency, multi-gigabit capacity, and denser traffic following pre-5G backhaul requirements such as covering long distances and greater availability.

Notably, GSMA foresees that in 2023, 15 new 5G standalone (SA) networks will deploy. I anticipate that the expansion of 5G SA deployments, using purpose-built 5G core capabilities, propagates the edge functions and ultra-low latency that are key to advancing overall 5G capabilities beyond early stage enhanced mobile broadband, which uses 5G non-standalone (NSA) technology that relies on a 4G LTE core.

The necessity of using 5G NSA in the initial deployments of 5G has limited the potential of 5G services thus far, which I expect will improve significantly as 5G SA becomes more widely available. Through 5G SA capabilities, service providers can offer a broader range of 5G services that deliver the capabilities needed to fulfill greater mobile broadband connectivity demands such as ultra-low latency Industry 4.0 networking as well as augmented 5G enterprise and consumer experiences.

Key Takeaways: Clearfield Fiber Portfolio is Ready for the 5G SA Era

I see Clearfield’s fiber backhaul portfolio capabilities playing an integral role at enabling the higher capacity and low bit error rate that is key to assuring multi-gigabit (10 Gbps+) performance and ultra-low latency for 5G backhaul across expanding 5G SA implementations. Overall, I believe that the steady expansion of 5G SA implementations amid the worldwide growth of 5G deployments will fuel more demand and need for Clearfield fiber optic connectivity and management technology across fast growing 5G backhaul environments.

Disclosure: The Futurum Group is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article.

Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually and data and other information that might have been provided for validation, not those of The Futurum Group as a whole.

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Author Information

Ron is an experienced, customer-focused research expert and analyst, with over 20 years of experience in the digital and IT transformation markets, working with businesses to drive consistent revenue and sales growth.

He is a recognized authority at tracking the evolution of and identifying the key disruptive trends within the service enablement ecosystem, including a wide range of topics across software and services, infrastructure, 5G communications, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), analytics, security, cloud computing, revenue management, and regulatory issues.

Prior to his work with The Futurum Group, Ron worked with GlobalData Technology creating syndicated and custom research across a wide variety of technical fields. His work with Current Analysis focused on the broadband and service provider infrastructure markets.

Ron holds a Master of Arts in Public Policy from University of Nevada — Las Vegas and a Bachelor of Arts in political science/government from William and Mary.


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